Switzerland: Paradise on Earth

Discover the unspoilt charm of picturesque Lucerne.

Updated on August 08, 2017 15:08 pm

Food & Travel Singapore Editor

lake lucerne switzerland

Switzerland—with its snow capped mountains, charming countryside, and magical lakes—is the perfect destination for a family vacation. Pack your bags and head to Lucerne! Enjoy the wonders of nature: from glaciers, to mountain peaks, hikes, bike rides, boat cruises, and unforgettable train rides.

Accommodation won’t disappoint as the Swiss reputation in hospitality and tourism is phenomenal. B&B’s, farm stays, and luxury hotels—Lucerne has it all. Check out the luxurious Bürgenstock Resort, which will reopen its doors this September.

Plan to spend at least three to four days if time permits, as there’s so much to see and do in Lucerne.

A view of Switzerland from above

Day 1

Lucerne

From Zurich, I took a 45-minute train ride to scenic Lucerne, taking in its beautiful sights, sounds, and smells. No visit to the city of Lucerne is complete without a stroll along its picturesque town. Take in sights of the lake and the view of the stunning mountains. Catching the sunset at this magical lake is something else. My trip takes me by the major attractions of Lucerne past the Old Town, Chapel Bridge, The Lion Monument, and the Jesuit Church, to name a few.

lake lucerne in switzerland

Lake Lucerne

Old Town

At the Old Town, with its quaint shops and restaurants, I stop by Restaurant Stadtkeller, a child friendly restaurant for a taste of the specially brewed "Stadtkeller" beer with my lunch. I am enchanted by the traditional Swiss Folklore performances. I was entertained by Swiss accordion music, performers blowing the alphorn, yodeling and tossing the Swiss flag. A character in a cow’s costume invites audience participation and everyone has a good time. The restaurant is open for dinner too, so diners can also catch the performance then.

what you can do at stadtkeller musik-restaurant in lucerne, switzerland

Stadtkeller Musik-Restaurant, Sternenplatz 3, 6004 Luzern
Tel: 41 (0) 41 410 47 33
www.stadtkeller.ch

Lucerne Modern Art Museum

For my next stop, I decide on a museum visit and find myself at the KKL and Lucerne Modern Art Museum, a leading institution for the visual arts on the top floor of the Culture and Convention Centre Lucerne (KKL). Architect Jean Nouvel designed it and the museum hosts exhibitions on modern art. You will find displays of the museum’s permanent collection on 19th to 20th century landscape painting, Swiss art from the Middle Ages to present day, as well as art from around the world from the 1960s and '70s.

On display, too, are instillations, photography, and paintings, including works by Cuno Amiet, Rene Auberjonois, and sculptures and also photography by Vito Acconci and paintings by John Armleder. It is best to go on Wednesdays at 6 pm, or on Sundays at 11 am if you want a guided tour, the price of which is included in the admission fee.

Kunstmuseum, Europaplatz1, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland
Tel: 41 (0)41 22678 00
www.kuntsmuseumluzern.ch/en

Verkehrshaus der Schweiz (Swiss Museum of Transport)

Pop into the Swiss Museum of Transport, a huge building housing several exhibition halls displaying various types of transport, from locomotive models and actual samples of ships, aircraft, rockets, and automobiles. Visitors can trace the development of transportation from the past, to the present mechanised varieties. Watch how the construction of the St. Gotthard rail tunnel was completed. A 3D movie theatre boasting the largest screen in Switzerland, and a 150-projector Planetarium screen daily shows.

The highlight is riding on a cube-shaped chocolate car experiencing a multimedia voyage on the history behind the production and origin of the Swiss Chocolate. It is a treat to the senses as you experience the aromas, flavours, and seduction of the world-famous Swiss Chocolate. Visitors get to take home a free sample. You may also create your very own bar of chocolate for a fee.

Lidostrasse 5, Lucerne 6006, Switzerland
Tel: 41 /41 370 44 44
www.verkehrshaus.ch

Mount Pilatus: Golden Round Trip

I rode a gondola and switched to a cable car ride to ascend the 2000-metre-high Mount Pilatus and was transfixed by the spectacular view of the alpine mountains and magnificent lake. Stepping off the cable car, a carefully marked dragon trail allows you to hike up to the peak. The descent from the peak, a ride on the world’s steepest cog wheel train dating back to 1889, gave me an adrenaline rush. After that dizzying and exhilarating ride, a relaxing boat ride took me back to Lucerne. The trip to Mount Pilatus including the boat ride is free if you have a valid Swiss Travel Pass.

Day 2

Engelberg

The much talked about mountain resort of Engelberg or Mount of Angels is easy to explore independently. I stroll along a Baroque monastery, founded by the Benedictine monks. For cheese lovers, the monastery is famous for its "mutschli" as well as its "klosterkase" and "kaseglocke", a soft, bell shaped cheese. Do hike up the lush valleys, if you are game. The family-friendly bike trails are impressive and the alpine air is invigorating.

benedictine monastery in switzerland

Benedictine Monastery

Mount Titlis

From Engelberg, I find myself on a 40-minute gondola ride to the peak of the 3,020-metre-high Mount Titlis. The verdant scenery leaves me speechless. I transfer to the 360-degree revolving Rotair gondola to the summit. This is such a surreal moment and I pinch myself! An Ice Flyer, a modern glacier gondola lift transports you to the acclaimed Glacier Cave. The Panorama Restaurant located here is ideal for a meal break and offers a stunning view of the Alps.

the stunning view of the alps at mount titlis in switzerland

My tour here takes me about two hours. First stop: the Titlis Glacier Park. The kids will love descending the mountain in a snow tube. The Titlis Cliff Walk that is Europe’s highest suspension bridge, 500 metres above a precipice, is not to be missed. The millions of ice crystals in a frozen underground grotto at the Glazier Cave leave me awestruck. Kids will have incredible fun tobogganing at the Glacier Fun Park.

Day 3

Bürgenstock Resort

The Bürgenstock Resort, about 20 minutes from Lucerne, is the epitome of luxury and is accessible by car and bus. However, for those seeking new experiences, they might want to opt for the boat ride followed by the funicular. First built in 1873, it is perched 500 metres above Lake Lucerne. A funicular takes you to the Palace Hotel. The resort houses the five-, four- and three-star hotels housed in the resort along with the Grand Hotel and Spa, with unparalleled views of Lake Lucerne and the Alpine peaks of the Rigi and Pilatus. At the spa, you get to swim in a choice of three al fresco heated pools and enjoy a private garden. A Kneipp bath (immersion bath) with healing and rejuvenating properties is highly recommended.

The Bürgenstock Resort boasts its very own nine-hole golf course—imagine a nine-hole game high up above the mountain tops! The resort offers three luxury Residence Suites with hotel service, business facilities, Private Villas, Panaroma Villas, and Lakeview Suites. The tennis and Curling Clubs and a Cigar club have your every comfort in mind.

You must ride the historical Hammetschwand Lift. At an altitude of 1,132 metres, it is the highest outdoor elevator in Europe, going back almost 111 years ago. The breathtaking ride makes the 152-metre ascent in under a minute.

Make sure you dine in luxury at any of the four restaurants. Restaurant Taverne 1879 and Pension 1879 serve typically Swiss food, which you must try before leaving the city. Enjoy a cocktail or a barbecue and catch the sunset at Restaurant Hammetschwand, with its breathtaking view. My next choice would be Trogen for its country-style cooking or the Spa Restaurant, where food is literally cooked before your very eyes.

An amazing view from the Bürgenstock Resort in Switzerland

Stanserhorn

From Bürgenstock, I head to Stans Station and enjoy a leisure train ride to Kälti, where I transfer to the world's first aerial cable car CabriO—a double decker cable car with an open top—that takes me to Mt Stanserhorn, 1,900 metres above sea level, where the revolving restaurant “Rondorama” is perched. It is a self service restaurant, breakfast is served only on Sundays, and it opens for lunch and dinner for the rest of the week. Tantalise your palate with the Älplermagronen (cheese macaroni with apple sauce) served in an Edelweiss pot. Try also a local favourite Luzerner Chügelipastete, a puff-pastry shell filled with diced veal and mushrooms in a creamy sauce. For the romantics, a candle lit dinner is recommended for your wining and dining pleasure, where you get waited on.

Stanserhorn-Bahn-Gesellschaft
Drehrestaurant Rondorama
Stansstaderstrasse 19, 6370 Stans
Tel: 41 (0) 41 618 80 40
info@cabrio.ch

Day 4

Ferienhof Rüti (Farm Stay)

Lucerne offers quite a few farm stays. Being a city girl, I booked mine at Ferienhof Rüti in Morschach, located above mystical Lake Lucerne. Although easily accessible by public transport, Irma and Richard Schuler—the friendly couple who own the farm—offer a pick up service for guests. The farm has rooms that cater for families of six, and a camping site is available for groups of 20.

I am greeted by breathtaking views of the mountains and the stunning Lake Lucerne. Rüti houses a large playground for young children. I get up close and personal with sheep, goats, cows, donkeys, pigs, rabbits, cats, and dogs. Children will delight in patting and feeding the animals, as well as milking the cows, a first for me. A tent site with barbecue facilities is available for bigger groups who might prefer the outdoors.

I was pleasantly surprised to have Wi-Fi access. For the more adventurous bunch, there are bike paths to explore, or hike along the trails. After all, hiking is the national pasttime of the Swiss. A brisk walk of 200 metres gets me to the public transport to the town of Brunnen, located 5 km away, but I decided to take a cruise along the wondrous Lake Lucerne. Lucerne offers quite a few farm stays, ideal for families but most require a minimum of a night’s stay. An experience not to be missed, the pristine alpine air and tranquility are priceless.

Ferienhof Rüti
Schuler Richard & Irma
Rüti 4, 6443 Morschach
Tel: 0041 (0) 41 820 53 09
info@ferienhof-rueti.ch

The Swiss Tavolata Experience

Before you leave Switzerland, you need to treat yourself to a wonderful gastronomic experience: The Swiss Tavolata, where farmers and their wives treat all their guests to the finest of Swiss hospitality and cuisine.

You get to taste food that is harvested from their very own farms and cooked on the homestead for you. So you may find yourself dining in the parlour, dining room, garden, field, barn, or wine cellar. The upside to this out-of-this-world experience is that you get to eat food which is home cooked and which you may not even find in some restaurants. It is best to book ahead so your host can cater to your needs. Tuck into homemade bread and cheeses, farm harvested vegetables, home made apple juice, and fresh meat.

Most offer suitable beverage and alcohol pairing with the meal. Certainly money well spent and an indelible experience. There are quite a few in Lucerne as well, check them out online and make your pick.

Getting There

Swiss International Air Lines flies to Zurich daily. Evening flights leave daily from Singapore and arrive in Zurich in the morning ready to begin your Swiss adventure. From Zurich, it is recommended to take a drive or train ride to Lucerne.

Getting Around

Going about in Switzerland is convenient with an all-in-one Swiss Travel Pass that allows you to travel by boat, bus, and rail. The pass not only offers unlimited rides on buses, trains, and boats, but it also grants free admission to over 500 museums in Switzerland. Be sure to purchase your pass online at www.SwissTravelSystem.com before you travel.

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